INDIANAPOLIS – Twenty-two judges and attorneys submitted applications Friday hoping to fill the current Indiana Supreme Court vacancy, with only one candidate from northeast Indiana.
Women overwhelmed the pool 16-6. Nine of the contenders are judges. Nine previously sought the position on the states high court.
Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull applied again after she was not chosen in 2010.
Ive always wanted to be on the Indiana Supreme Court, and this is the best opportunity that will be available for quite sometime, she said.
Gull noted the natural progression her legal career has taken – from deputy prosecutor to chief deputy to a judge first handling low-level felonies and then major cases.
If I am not appointed, I am fortunate enough to have a job I love and that I think Im pretty good at, she said.
Indiana Supreme Court Justice Frank Sullivan Jr. announced his departure from the states highest court in April, giving Gov. Mitch Daniels a rare opportunity to appoint a third member of the five-member panel during his tenure. Sullivan is joining Indiana Universitys Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis this fall.
In September 2010, Daniels tapped Justice Steven David to replace Theodore Boehm. In March, the governor chose Mark Massa to replace departing Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard.
In Indiana, applicants for a seat on the Supreme Court are first interviewed by a seven-member Judicial Nominating Commission. The panel consists of three attorney members selected by their peers, three non-attorneys appointed by the governor and the chief justice.
The commission culls the list of applicants to three finalists, which are given to the governor. He then has 60 days to pick one of those three names.
Daniels received some pressure during his first two appointments to pick a woman because Indiana is one of only three states not to have a female jurist on the state Supreme Court.
When Boehm left, 19 women and 15 men applied. One finalist was a woman and Daniels chose a man. When Shepard left, eight men and seven women applied. One finalist was a woman and Daniels chose a man.
Both times, Daniels said he considers gender a tiebreaker to be used only if the final candidates are equal in accomplishments and qualifications.
Next Friday, the commission will release a list of candidates to be interviewed. Depending on the number of applicants, all or just some of the contenders will be interviewed July 17 and 18. The group will be trimmed for a second round of interviews in August before the final three are chosen.
Rebecca S. Green of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.